To give your business website the edge, you should employ the best available person or people. Sometimes, that means assigning existing staff talent to work on web design. It can make more business sense to either bring in someone new or to contract with a professional consultant, though. Looking for the right fit for your business and your vision for your website shouldn’t be rushed. Verify that the candidates have the right skills and training to create and maintain your online presence.

On-staff or Contract

You have choices about how to employ the designer you choose to work with. Will you need frequent updating and daily maintenance of your site? Or, do you prefer that your designer give you the tools and let you do the work, post-setup? With the time and funds available, can your existing staff handle the job? Is it feasible to bring in new in-house talent? Or, does it make more sense to outsource the project development? The answers to these questions tell you the overall direction you should move in. Once you have established that your funds can cover the staffing and startup costs you can start talking to candidates. Most newer personal tax prep software programs have options for deducting the cost of hiring a professional since it would be considered a business expense. Get an idea from the potential designers of how many hours they estimate for the project and how much software and hardware you need to obtain or upgrade. Figure these costs in as part of the overall budget expenditures. Overall, your goal in this process should be to hire the most qualified person for the job—the one who both understands your business and your needs who can also work within your budget.

Design Methodology

One big initial decision is what development methodology to use. Waterfall, the oldest method, is better for large organizations. With its carefully-defined steps leading from conception to release, the end result builds on earlier development and undergoes extensive testing. Or, you can rely on agile development, with individual releases of smaller changes. Your website may be up and running more quickly with agile design but that also means less testing. In selecting professional web design staff, you need to determine whether it’s more important to you to have a fully completed website that doesn’t undergo frequent changes or whether you want something that can be updated often to incorporate new features and information. Realize that your choice is driven by the complexity of the website; the amount, nature and complexity of other software used for it; the staff budget for your website; and the amount of time you have before releasing your website to the general public. Your development methodology will determine the number and skill sets of your development team members, in addition to the nature of their work.

Managing your business’s online presence, from its inception to its release, means entering a new management sphere. How you approach the challenge offers options but it’s crucial to choose the correct one. Do your research. Interview carefully. And, have a plan in place that lays out what your preferences are as well as your timeline for release of the website.